Don’t Make These Mistakes in Your QMS Audit

A Quality Management System (QMS) isn’t just a formal structured framework that your organization needs to achieve the ISO 9001 certification. It is responsible for practices or procedures that ensure the quality of your products or services and will also continually improve your processes. A quality management system audit is a regular practice that will help you find the issues in your quality procedures before it’s too late and they affect your end products or services.

The QMS audit is a prerequisite for every business which helps them to maintain certification as well as improve performance. When performed correctly, it will help in finding errors so that you can fix them quicky.  The importance of an audit is to make sure that your QMS works efficiently towards its purpose and maintains compliance with the ISO standard.

However, when done incorrectly, a QMS audit will be a waste of your time or resources and will make no real improvements in your quality procedures. So, how do you perform your QMS audit effectively and how can you avoid certain mistakes? This blog is going to discuss that.

5 Quality Management System Audit Mistakes You Should Avoid

Doing the audit without a proper plan

When you have a QMS implemented and ISO certified, an internal audit becomes a regular and necessary practice to maintain the certification. Therefore, you should not be doing it in an unplanned manner i.e., without making the employees aware of it beforehand or setting a proper time schedule.  Besides, you should consider all the quality procedures and areas of your business that should be audited.

Without having the supervisors, employees, quality managers, and process owners on board, it is not possible to conduct a comprehensive audit.  If they are not involved, you may miss out on some vital areas which must be audited for identifying risks and nonconformities.

Therefore, creating a proper plan or roadmap of your audit procedure every time you conduct it is necessary. It helps you to perform the audit in a coordinated way involving the important members and addressing the most critical aspects.

Ignoring the documentation part

You should not only review the quality procedures and key areas of your business but also the documents. To achieve the certification for your QMS, you have prepared, created, organized, and retained a lot of documents. Those documents present in detail the quality objectives, policy, scope of QMS, roles of employees, work instructions, compliance evidence, and records of quality issues.  The documents are kept either in electronic format or paper files, in a way that makes them easily accessible to authorized members.

Those documents are key to ensuring accountability of employees and making the quality management procedures consistent in your organization. Thus, those documents must also be reviewed during the audit to check if they are in line with your current quality procedures, objectives, policy, compliance requirements, and so on.

Focusing only on recovery solutions instead of preventive actions

The audit of the QMS is about finding risks, shortcomings, and nonconformities that have reduced the effectiveness of the QMS.  Unfortunately, many organizations find these issues and only focus on damage control, i.e., how to improve the QMS and restore its effectiveness.  Rarely, will organizations think about preventive actions which will ensure that those issues never repeat again.

Thus, focusing on rectification of issues and damage control while ignoring preventive measures is a mistake that will make the audit less purposeful! An audit is about continually improving the QMS so that there is consistency in quality of your products/services. Therefore, eliminate the issues at the source and prevent them in future with appropriate solutions like replacing a process or engaging more competent employees. This way, you will be able to use the identified issues as opportunities to improve your QMS.

Overlooking the big picture

During the audit, you will come across many errors or faults in the quality management procedures that are made by the employees. While you will make employees aware of their mistakes after the audit and train them further to avoid such mistakes, it will be better to see the bigger picture.

Most of the time, the reason for workers to fail at their duties is the issues in processes, management system, or organizational culture. For instance, a worker made a major error in a manufacturing process because he was not provided with any guidelines or work instructions for his role.  Similarly, when QMS documents are unclear, workers skip steps in the quality control processes. Therefore, when you identify an error during the audit, the first step is to investigate it and look from a broader perspective to find the real cause behind it.

Not taking the histories of the previous audit

A QMS audit cannot be considered complete and effective until you consider the history of the previous audit.  A lot has changed since the previous audit. You have adjusted some processes or replaced some based on the reports of the previous audit. Thus, if you do not get the full history of that earlier audit, you will not know whether the necessary improvements and suggestions of the auditors are applied. 

Key Takeaway

These quality management system audit mistakes are common that can easily fail your audit procedure and make it a wasted opportunity for your business. The only way to avoid these mistakes is to engage a professional team of auditors who have experience in the QMSes across various industries. They know how to make the audit a positive experience and a real opportunity for businesses to improve their quality performance.

Also, conducting the QMS audits can be exhaustive and stressful for your team! Thankfully, with external auditors, your team can be completely relieved from such stress. They will conduct the audit of your processes, QMS and documents effortlessly within a scheduled time. The only thing you need is to provide the auditors with right information about your business whenever they need it.

Is it time to audit the QMS of your organization? At Compliancehelp Consulting LLC, we have dedicated ISO consultants and auditors who provide premium consultation and audit services to businesses that seek ISO certifications. We will love to help you!